Lessons learned from The Little Engine That Could

The Little Engine That Could is an American folktale that is often used to teach children the values of optimism and hard work. A recurring theme in the tale is “I think I can.”

In the fable, a large train is stranded on a tall mountain after its engine breaks down and is no longer able to pull itself over the top of the mountain. In need of assistance from another stronger train to pull it over the crest, the conductor asked several larger trains for assistance, but his request was denied. Finally, the conductor of a smaller train agrees to attempt and succeeds after much effort and repeating the phrase, “I think I can.”

Based on findings recently released by Cognia, an organization that provides accreditation, certification, and assessments for school districts, DeKalb County Board of Education (DBOE) members could possibly learn valuable lessons from this children’s tale.

The Cognia report found that DBOE has made “little progress” in its efforts to function as a cohesive unit. DBOE has a long history of not functioning properly and as a result, in 2013, then Gov. Nathan Deal intervened by removing most members of that board and replacing them with handpicked individuals.

Cognia has requested that DBOE document its efforts to work together in a more meaningful manner and submit a progress report by December. Perhaps members of DBOE should collectively begin repeating the mantra “I think I can” several times before each meeting. At least it would start the meetings on a positive note and encourage board members to work better together for the benefit of the students.

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